Identity Crisis: 5 Bugs That Look Like Bed Bugs

Learn about bed bug look-alikes in Wisconsin - Batzner Pest Control

If you see a tiny bug inside your home or on your mattress, it’s understandable why you may panic and assume it’s a bed bug. Because bed bugs are so small, they can be difficult to identify, especially when you spot just one or two. There are a number of similarly sized and shaped bugs that are often confused for the dreaded bed bug—and vice-versa. Read on to learn more about these identity-stealing insects.

What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?

Although it often takes a professional’s eye to accurately spot a bed bug, they have multiple distinguishable traits. Even though they appear slightly different in their different stages of life, bed bugs are typically the size of an apple seed and are mahogany or brown in color. After feeding, adult bed bugs will take on more of a red color and may appear engorged. For the most part, bed bugs are often seen clustered together in their hiding spots—seeing them on your mattress or mattress tag is, of course, the most obvious indication of an infestation.

5 Bed Bug Look-Alikes

Bed bugs are tiny, and chances are you aren’t jumping at the chance to get close enough to further investigate. This often leads to a lot of misidentified bugs. The bugs most often confused as bed bugs are:

  • Bat bugs: The most similar insect to the bed bug in appearance, these bugs are found wherever bats live. The only difference in appearance is the fact that bat bugs have longer hairs on their heads.
  • Spider beetles: Found in wooden structures and near food, these beetles have much longer legs than bed bugs and are covered in hair.
  • Booklice: These tiny insects are found in areas with high humidity and closely resemble mosquitoes.
  • Carpet beetles: Typically found in fabrics or on flowers, carpet beetles are black and have orange-red scales, making them more colorful than the bed bug.
  • Fleas: Most often brought inside on animals, fleas have characteristically long legs and are flattened laterally. They are reddish-brown in color and slightly larger than bed bugs.

How to Identify Bed Bugs

If you spot tiny bugs in your home and are unsure what you’re dealing with, it’s always best to call a professional. The team at Batzner has years of experience inspecting Wisconsin homes for bed bugs, and our trained professionals (as well as our canine inspectors) know how to tell a bed bug from any other insect you may see inside your home.

Why Do Stink Bugs Stink?

Learn why stink bugs release a foul odor in Wisconsin - Batzner Pest Control

Stink bugs weren’t given their name for no reason. Just as you might expect, these little insects are known for the foul odor they release when they are threatened or crushed. But where does that stench come from, and what exactly does it smell like? For the most part, this odor is a defense mechanism used to deter predators when they feel injured or in danger. The smell is also known to linger for hours! Read on to learn why stink bugs release this odor.

How Do Stink Bugs Produce Their Odor?

Whenever they feel threatened—or are crushed or injured—stink bugs release a strong, odorous deterrent from a body gland in their abdomen. Much like a skunk’s defense mechanism, stink bugs will only use this function from time to time. The scent itself is a mixture of chemicals that is released through the exoskeleton. The odor is spread through the air and has been known to linger for a long time, which is why you should never crush one of these bugs when you see one!

Are Stink Bugs Dangerous?

These bugs are certainly smelly, but do they cause any harm? Even though these stink bugs are everywhere in the fall, they are not known to bite or attack people. Some of the things to know about the threat of stink bugs include:

  • The odor they release will not harm anyone and only occasionally causes mild irritation or agitation when the liquid gets on a human.
  • While they don’t pose any immediate threat to humans, stink bugs can still be dangerous when infestations get out of hand.
  • They don’t typically cause structural damage, but will invade homes in large numbers.
  • Additionally, they are a huge nuisance in the agriculture industry because they feed on fruit and vegetables.

How to Prevent Stink Bugs

In the fall months as the weather cools down, stink bugs begin to search for warm spots inside buildings to overwinter. The best way to prevent these smelly insects from getting inside is to safeguard your home. Inspect your property for cracks and crevices that would allow them in and fix any problems in the foundation of your home. If you need help protecting your home from stink bugs or if you have noticed them inside your home, it’s time to call a professional such as Batzner!

What to Do Once You Know You Have an Ant Problem

Learn what to do once you have an ant problem in Wisconsin - Batzner Pest Control serving New Berlin, Madison, Oshkosh, Racine, Green Bay and surrounding areas

If you’ve ever experienced an ant problem, you know how frustrating and seemingly never-ending they can be. Seeing just a few ants here and there can quickly turn to hundreds or even thousands—overnight! Ant infestations are overwhelming for any property owner, which is why it’s important to know what to do as soon as you suspect you have an ant issue looming. Bottom line, completely getting rid of ants often requires the help of a professional pest control company with experience controlling current infestations and preventing future ones.

Signs of an Ant Infestation

Just seeing a couple of ants every few days is a pretty normal occurrence for any property owner. So how do you know when you have an infestation on your hands? There are several things to look out for when it comes to dealing with ants:

  1. Ant trails: Worker ants will lay down a pheromone in their trail to a food source in order to lead other ants to the food.
  2. Ant mounds or nests: The appearance of nests can vary between species, but generally look like small piles of soil or dirt.
  3. A never-ending population: If you’re noticing more and more ants each day, it’s likely their colony has spread.

How to Get Rid of Ants

There’s a reason why ants are so dreaded by homeowners—they’re infamously hard to get rid of! Although there are a number of DIY solutions to ant problems, they work best for prevention methods only. Once ants establish a colony inside your home or business, they can quickly grow and easily resist any store-bought products you may use in an attempt to defeat them. For this reason, a professional is needed to treat ants. While you’re waiting for help, you can help reduce the conditions that encourage ant populations to grow by keeping a tidy home, wiping up spills, picking up pet food, and more.

Professional Help for Ant Problems

Your best bet at stopping an ant issue in its tracks is to call a professional pest control company as soon as you start noticing more and more ants in your property. A licensed technician will be able to identify the species you’re dealing with before administering effective, long-lasting solutions to resolve your ant problem for good. Contact the expert team at Batzner Pest Control for ant solutions you can count on.

Rodent Awareness Week Brings Focus to Rodent Prevention

Rodent Awareness Week at Batzner Pest Control - Rodent control services by Batzner Pest Control serving Southeastern Wisconsin

Rodent infestations become a major problem in Wisconsin in fall and winter.

What makes rodent infestations so dangerous?

Rodents pose a number of health risks to you and your family. The spread of food-borne illnesses like Salmonella is probably the most alarming, as rodents contaminate surfaces throughout the house and will look to get into your kitchen cabinets and food prep areas. Their skin, saliva, and urine can also aggravate allergy symptoms.

In addition to spreading disease, bacteria, and allergens, rodents can cause electrical fires by gnawing through your home’s wiring. All of the problems associated with rodent infestations are amplified by how quickly they reproduce. A few mice in your attic can turn into a full-blown infestation in a very short period of time – each female mouse can give birth to between six and eight offspring every three weeks!

What should homeowners look out for?

Because of the potential dangers and the speed at which they can occur, homeowners need to be extremely vigilant when preparing their homes for the fall and winter. Here are some tips from the NPMA on how to rodent-proof your home this year:

  • Use weather strips on doorways and windows
  • Replace broken windows
  • Caulk around utility/service pipes
  • Repair openings in the building’s foundation
  • Screen all vents
  • Seal additional small cracks with copper mesh (steel wool will rust and deteriorate over time).
  • Around the house exterior, rake away any weeds or shrubbery as they provide safe passage to pests
  • Mulch, in particular, should not be used near the foundation, and any overhanging tree branches need to be cut down
  • Do not store firewood within the immediate vicinity of the house

Once these preventative measures have been taken, the NPMA advises being on the lookout for these indicators of rodent infestation:

  • Droppings: Droppings are typically found in kitchen cabinets and pantries, along walls, on top of wall studs or beams, and in boxes, bags and old furniture.
  • Noises: Rodents often make scurrying sounds, especially at night, as they move about and nest.
  • Gnaw marks: New gnaw marks tend to be rough to touch and are light colored.
  • Burrows: Inside, rodents often nest in various materials such as insulation, and are drawn to dark and secluded areas.
  • Damaged food packages: House mice prefer to feed on cereals and seeds, while Norway rats prefer meat, fish and dry dog food.

If any of these signs of rodents are found, contact us immediately! Remember, a small issue will become a major problem in a short amount of time. You can reach us at (262)797-4160 or on our website.

Rats in Madison and Milwaukee Residential Areas

When most Wisconsin suburban homeowners think of rats, they imagine filthy New York subway stations or Chicago sewers, not their own backyards. While there are definitely more rats in those more densely populated areas, the resourceful rodents are moving into less urban neighborhoods at a high rate.

Madison Area

Fall of 2016 saw public health officials in Madison, WI and Dane County respond to a surge in rat infestations, most of which were reported from the city’s East Side and neighboring communities.

The situation in the Madison area is a perfect example of how rats can adapt to suburban and rural areas, not just older buildings in the city. In a piece by the Wisconsin State Journal, John Hausbeck, Public Health Supervisor with Public Health Madison and Dane County, explains, “While older housing may have more cracks and crevices that could permit the entry of rats, the significant infestations are due to allowing conditions that attract rats, such as food and shelter, and this could happen in any neighborhood, old or new.”

One of the steps taken by Public Health Madison and Dane County was to release a video focusing on how residents can make their homes less appealing to rats. In keeping with the integrated pest control model practiced here at Batzner, its primary focus is the elimination of food and harborage sources.

Milwaukee Area

The areas surrounding Milwaukee have also seen sharply increasing reports of rat problems in the few years that statistics have been taken.

One example is West Allis, where Health Department Environmentalists account a rapid rise in rat sightings. According to an article by the West Allis Now, sightings from 68th Street to the eastern city limits jumped from one or two calls on an infrequent basis back in 2010 to 127 in 2013. Additionally, there appears to be a definite trend of westward expansion for rat populations, as the article also states that the area from 68th Street to 92nd Street went from one or two calls a year to at least one call a week. This includes calls from areas that had never previously had a complaint.

Our service team has experienced this firsthand, as Operations Manager Jason Ganas explains, “We have had a definite increase in the number of rat control jobs in the areas around Milwaukee. The most notable would be in West Allis and Wauwatosa, but we have seen particularly bad cases as far as Brookfield.”

Check out these recent cases of rats affecting people in the Milwaukee Area to see just how problematic the growing population can be: Rats Popping up in Milwaukee Neighborhood, Terrier Finds Big Rat in Milwaukee, Rats Drive West Allis Woman out of Backyard, Milwaukee Neighborhood Grocery Store Infested With Rats

Why Rats Relocate

There are several factors causing the spread of the rat population in Wisconsin, some of which are due to rat biology and behavior and others because of human action (or inaction). Ganas explains, “Rats are highly territorial, and a dominant male will get the best location for his burrow. A burrow is usually within 100 feet of a food and water source, so there are limits on how many potential nesting locations exist in a given area. As the population increases, it forces other rats to search farther away for their own place to nest.” Their ability to adapt to new environments and high reproductive rate also means that once a population has been established, it is very difficult to rid an area of rats completely.

Dan Stawicki, another Batzner Service Manager, notes the role people play in causing the spread of rats. “Construction projects, like the work being done on I-94 and the Zoo Interchange, uproot existing burrows and cause rats to seek out new harborage sites. The vibration alone can cause nearby burrows to be abandoned. Unfortunately, residential areas often provide the new homes they are looking for, offering harborage under cracked concrete slabs in garages and other structures and food sources in uncovered garbage bins.”

Rat Control- A Group Effort

Another reason why controlling the rat population is so difficult is confusion over who is responsible for handling it. There is often finger-pointing between city government, property owners/tenants, and pest control providers, as each feels the other parties are not pulling their weight. This issue exists even in areas that have been dealing with rat infestations for decades, so one can imagine the potential trouble the respective parties are in for in areas experiencing rat infestations for the first time. Ultimately, successful rat control comes from a coordinated effort between all three groups.

What You Can Do

Residents of urban, suburban, and rural areas are often unaware of just how much food and shelter their homes can provide to rats. Spilled birdseed, fruit fallen from apple trees, and even dog waste can feed rats in the suburbs, and stored grain and livestock waste provide food for rats living in the country. As a homeowner, you can help prevent rats from moving into your neighborhood by restricting their access to these food sources.

Additionally, make sure to keep up to date on how to rat-proof your home and share the information with your neighbors. Call us at 866-591-3519 or contact us online if you need additional help.

5 Tips and Tricks to Keep Ants out of Your House

We’ve almost made it through the winter blues and spring is on its way! People start to get a pep in their step as the temperatures start rising. Ants also notice this warmer weather and start appearing outside and even inside your home. Seeking shelter from the hot sun and spring rains and in search of food (particularly sweets and proteins), ants start entering homes any way that they can.

Operations Manager and Associate Certified Entomologist, Dan Stawicki, recalls a time where the ants were crawling across a power line into the house. He said, “In this situation, we had to recommend trimming the tree branches touching the power lines to the home owner. This eliminated the path for ants crawl from the tree across the power line and into the house. Sometimes you really have to think out of the box to find out their method of entry.”

Before ants have the chance to get out of control in your home, follow the tips and tricks below to make sure they stay out.

  1. Keep spills, crumbs and garbage cleaned up. Make sure all food is tightly sealed in containers or bags.
  2. With soapy water, wash the area you see ants walking to eliminate the pheromone trial. Because ants follow pheromone trials to food sources, washing it away will limit their ability to do so. Sprinkled pepper, especially cayenne pepper, can also work to disrupt pheromone trails.
  3. Seal up points of entry along windows or doorframes.
  4. Trim all trees and bushes so branches are not touching the house, creating walkways for ants.
  5. Fix moisture problems and replace water-damaged, rotting wood because moisture attracts some types of ants, especially carpenter ants.

For ant problems that just won’t go away, it is best to contact a pest control company. Service Specialists can locate the ant nest, and any satellite nests, to treat the problem directly at the source. They know exactly which behaviors to look for to correctly identify the type of ant and are able to determine the best treatment method.

Why am I seeing Asian Lady Beetles and Boxelder Bugs in Spring?

Around this time every year, we start seeing an increase of phone calls and website submissions regarding Asian Lady Beetles and Boxelder Bugs. While these little guys cause no harm to you or your house, that doesn’t mean they are welcomed with open arms. There’s a reason they start showing up around this time of year inside your house, and honestly, they’re kind of just lost.

If preventative measures were not taken in the fall to help protect against these guys, they will likely start showing up in your house around this time of year. You will especially find them in rooms that have the most sun exposure. Dave Kusnierek, District Service Manager and Certified Entomologist, explains, “In the Fall, Asian Lady Beetles and Boxelder Bugs land on the sunny sides of your house and then make their way into the walls and window casings via any cracks or crevices they can find. They hang out there until the sun warms the structures they are within causing them to ‘wake up’ and start wandering around. This is when you will likely start seeing them in your living room because, between the two choices of inside or outside, your house is looking much cozier in spring.”

Successful treatment for these pests is performed in Fall. In winter or early spring when they start appearing in large numbers within your home, reduction services can be performed. Residential Service Consultant, Katrina Jaehnert, explains, “This is done in the interior to help alleviate activity levels within the home. It is important to note that this will not eliminate them completely. Once Asian Lady Beetles and Boxelder Bugs settle in the cracks of your home, there’s not too much you can do, but we will recommend that you are set up for preventative treatment in the Fall to prevent this from reoccurring the following year.” Treatment for Asian Lady Beetles and Boxelder bugs is included in Batzner’s pestfree365 program, among other pests. For more information, call our office at 866-591-3519 or get a free estimate online today.

Bed Bug Facts and Information for Prevention

Bed Bugs are a very real problem in the United States. According to a survey conducted by the National Pest Management Association, 1 in 5 Americans has had a bed bug infestation in their home or knows someone who has.

In the pest control industry, we answer countless questions about bed bugs and consider ourselves “myth busters” when it comes to the tiny, blood-sucking pests. Knowledge is your first line of defense. Simply knowing how to correctly identify a bed bug and its basic behaviors goes a long way in preventing an infestation.

Basic bed bugs facts:
  • Bed bugs primarily feed on humans, but they also feed on warm-blooded animals, including birds, mice and pets.
  • Adults are just under ¼” long, relatively flat and oval in shape compared to most other insects.
  • Bed bugs can lay one to five eggs per day and more than 500 in a lifetime.
  • Bed bugs can survive for several months without eating.
  • Bed bugs can withstand a wide range of temperatures, from nearly freezing to 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Bed bugs draw blood for about five minutes before retreating to digest.
  • Bed bug hatchlings are so small they can pass through a stitch-hole in a mattress.

Now that you’re thoroughly disgusted, let’s move on to how you can protect yourself. While there is no 100% guaranteed way to prevent bed bugs, there are steps you can take to greatly decrease your chances of bringing them home.

It’s important to keep in mind that bed bugs can be found nearly everywhere. Hotels, movie theaters, apartment complexes, libraries, public transportation, retail stores, and even offices can all harbor bed bugs.

Quick tips to help keep you bed bug free:
  • Regularly inspect sleeping areas for signs of bed bugs such as pepper-like stains, molted bed bug skins and white, sticky eggs.
  • Never bring second-hand furniture, especially mattresses and box springs, into a home or college dorm without thoroughly examining it for signs of a bed bug infestation.
  • At hotels, thoroughly inspect the entire room before unpacking, including behind the headboard and in furniture. Pull back the bed sheets and check the mattress seams for pepper-like stains that may be evidence of bed bug activity. If you suspect an infestation or problem, notify management and change rooms immediately. Be sure the new room is not adjacent to or directly below or above the possibly infested room.
  • Keep suitcases in plastic trash bags or protective covers during a hotel stay to prevent bed bugs from nesting there. Do not put them on the beds.
  • Upon returning home from a trip, inspect all suitcases and other belongings before bringing them into the house.
  • Wash all clothes – even those that have not been worn – in hot water and dry them using an extra-hot dryer setting.

If you suspect or discover a bed bug problem in your home, it’s best to contact a professional right away. Attempting self-treatment can often do more harm than good.

Thank Your Dog or Cat for Noticing Pests in Walls

Some pets are natural pest control professionals you can have in your home 24/7. Their keen sense of hearing and smell can alert you to pest activity that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. Cats and dogs are among the pets that get the most credit for noticing and alerting you when something isn’t quite right. Whether that means staring at walls or sniffing under couches, cats and dogs are likely to notice a pest in your home before you do.

Cats

Cats are probably the best pets for pest control because they take care of insects and rodents without any training. They are naturally inclined to watch for creatures you may not want in your home, and they have all the tools needed to eliminate the problem. Because cats notice even the slightest of movement, they are very proficient at chasing house spiders, centipedes, moths and other creepy crawlies. The chasing and eating of bugs is both fun and instinctual, as bugs are quickly moving small things and cat’s brains are programmed to chase. The innate desire to hunt and practice predatory behavior through play is still active in domestic cats. If there’s a mouse in your house, a cat will be sure to find it, and they will spend hours patiently watching and waiting until a rodent emerges. While there are perks of having 24/7 pest control in your home, beware of the diseases rodents can carry that could spread to your cats. Cats can unfortunately get fleas, ticks and other parasites from catching and eating mice.

Dogs

With their keen sense of smell and excellent hearing abilities, dogs make excellent pets for pest problems. They alert you to the presence of a pest you may not notice. Dogs are less likely to kill insects and rodents than cats are, but they will at least tell you when a problem comes up.

About two years ago, my dog, Tripp, would suddenly wake up in the middle of the night and stare off into the darkness. Comforting, I know. It took me a while to catch on, but then I heard it too – a scratching, scrapping sound coming from inside the wall which could only mean one thing…MICE.

The thing about mice is they can make a lot of noise considering their small size. Around the same time each night, I could hear them running their nightly errands. I started losing too much sleep, so I called a pest control company to help take care of the issue. They inspected the outside of my home and found that the point of entry was where the siding met the brick on the side of my house. They sealed up the small gap where the mice were sneaking through. As Training and Development Manager, Steve Counsell, always says “Batzner’s goal is to always figure out the method of entry and seal those openings. As long as there is an ‘open door’, they will keep coming in.” By quickly identifying and solving the issue, my mice problem finally went away.

If it wasn’t for the excellent hearing skills of my pup, it would have taken me a lot longer to catch on to what was going inside my walls. If your dog or cat is waking up in the middle of the night or staring at walls, he might be trying to alert you of some pests. Take a minute and listen to see if he has noticed something you haven’t. If you find out there is something unwelcome making a home inside your walls, take my advice and call Batzner at 866-591-3519 or contact us online today.

How to Spot Pest Issues When Buying a New Home

When it comes to major purchases, there’s nothing more exciting than buying a new home. The new home search is filled with plenty of decisions and “watch outs.” When touring potential homes, many home-buyers focus on cosmetic changes they want to make in their new home. However, most new home buyers rarely think about pests. Pests, such as cockroaches, mice, rats, and stinging pests, carry health risks. Other pests, such as carpenter ants, rodents, and wildlife, can cause severe and costly damage to homes. Pest problems can be lurking beneath the surface, and knowing what to look for could help you avoid expensive repairs and treatments after you’ve signed on the dotted line.

As you visit the house, make sure to inspect the interior and exterior yourself for signs of pest invasion or damage. See if the previous owner has taken common pest problem prevention steps, such as installing screens on windows and doors or keeping shrubs and tree limbs from extending to the side of the house and roof. Look for cracks in sealed areas such as floorboards and molding, holes in the back corners of storage spaces and webs in the garage and basement. While many of these issues are easily fixed, you should be aware of the level of preventative care the previous homeowner took.

According to the National Pest Management Association, at any given time, approximately 29% of American homes are experiencing a pest infestation. While the occasional insect guest can happen in any home, you may want to have more serious pest concerns resolved before you buy; some may be serious enough for you to consider not making a purchase.

Recently, a customer called Batzner because they heard a noise coming from the attic of their newly purchased home. When our Operations Manager went up into the attic to take a look, he found BIRD NESTS! It turned out that the home inspector never went up into the attic, so the nests weren’t discovered until after the new owners moved in. If you are buying a home, use a qualified home inspector or strongly consider getting a pest inspection in addition to the required inspections.

It can be difficult to spot pest issues – some pests are too small to see or live in areas that may be difficult to access. That’s why it’s important to know signs that may indicate a more serious problem.

How to spot signs of potential pest issues:

Mice, Rats and Wildlife

  • Look for mouse and rat droppings
  • Listen for scratching noises coming from under the floor, behind walls or in ceilings
  • Check for signs of rodent nests in cabinets, pantries, and behind appliances
  • Chewed or gnawed wiring may also indicate a problem with rodents or wildlife

Insects (common pests include cockroaches and ants)

  • Live or dead insects could indicate a problem
  • When outside, look for openings or gaps that insects could use access to gain entry to the home – anything larger than ¼-inch is a cause for concern
  • Ant mounds are another issue to watch for in yards
  • Bee, wasp, and hornet nests attached to the home or in the yard; look up in high trees, under overhangs on the structure, etc.

Carpenter Ants

  • Carpenter ants will look for softened wood to infest; if you notice signs of wet or moisture damaged wood, it may be a good idea to have a pest inspection done before buying
  • These pests can hollow out wood, similar to mosquitoes, which can be costly to repair
  • Carpenter ants are larger than most ants – about ¼-inch to ½-inch in size – and black in color
  • In areas where carpenter ants are active, you may notice piles of what looks like sawdust near their entry holes

Bed bugs typically aren’t an issue for new homes, but if you are purchasing a town-home or condominium unit that shares walls with neighbors, be aware that your risk of bed bug issues could increase.

If you can’t decide whether or not to purchase your dream home, call a pest professional. The local pest control experts at Batzner are here to identify any potential pest issues. Getting a professional evaluation will give you a better idea of what can be done to eliminate existing pest issues and keep your new home pest-free for a long time to come.

Batzner can do an inspection of your potential home before you buy to avoid any horrifying surprises. This could save you thousands of dollars in home damage that may go unnoticed by other inspectors. The last thing you want is to inherit someone else’s pest problems.